Diversity and inclusion are more than ever, hot topics. And amongst the current challenges of COVID-19 and the concerns of inequality in the world today (more recently through Black Lives Matter and #MeToo), HR and training teams are urgently focusing on strengthening the workplace culture.
From fundamental D&I understanding and principles of inclusive leadership to workplace wellbeing and unconscious bias, each and every company must ensure their employees are not only educated on, but are also championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
So, what can you do to promote diversity and inclusion at work? Here are five steps that every company can implement.
Start at the top
In order for employees to recognise the purpose of diversity and inclusion, the management and leadership team need to be educated and act as role models.
Not only should the management team be diverse in race, gender, nationality, age, sexual orientation, etc, they must also empower this in their teams. They need to be aware and celebrate cultural holidays, not only Christmas but Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year, as well as diversity days such as Pride and International Women’s Day.
Employees’ responsibilities, behaviour and actions must echo the strong D&I values within a company and one way of implementing these into everyday working life is through training.
A programme of course modules should be undertaken by each employee, with the opportunity to revisit the content and toolkit whenever needed.
Training should ideally be delivered in a range of different formats, to suit employees’ different learning styles; for example, through the use of videos, interactive workshops, quizzes and with relatable scenarios. Training shouldn’t just be seen as a tickbox exercise, it should be reassessed each year.
Reinforce core values
Core messages around diversity and inclusion need to be regularly communicated and consistent. This could be anything from refresher training, a practical toolkit on the intranet, posters around the office, values integrated into the company’s mission statement or physical awareness of diversity in the workplace.
Regularly review and communicate policies
Policies and work documents need to be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they are inclusive to all employees.
For example, has your organisation reviewed (or considered) a flexible working policy since all the changes to routines and working practices instigated by the coronavirus pandemic. Have you checked the language on new starter forms regarding how you ask about gender? Do you have a framework for supporting transitioning colleagues, and do managers know where to find it?
Involve employees in everyday business decisions
Lack of communication within a company can create a sense of worthlessness or make employees feel unvalued. It is a strong belief that people make a company, so empower them!
Give them the opportunity to have input on a business decision. Whether a choice needs to be made on a new business logo, the Christmas party or a product name, a focus panel which includes a mix of employees from different departments and backgrounds should be created. Hold regular company update meetings or publish an intranet article recognising these people and the group decisions.
Listen to all employees and value their input. Spend time understanding your employees, how they work in their team, what they like, what needs improving. And then spend time acting on this information.